"With the likely next Prime Minister Boris Johnson praising Britain as the ‘greatest place on earth’, all the unlearned lessons of Empire are coming back to haunt us.
When did the British Empire end? Not that long ago.
Take Kenya, which has only been an independent country for 56 years, or Uganda’s freedom from British rule that happened only a year before in 1962.
It was only in 1997 that the British handed back control of Hong Kong to China. The recent pro-democracy protests on the island, and the UK’s tricky position in upholding its ‘one country, two systems’ pledge, is testament to how the legacy of Empire is very much alive in Britain and the world today.
By choosing a Brexit that refuses to recognise we were never just an autonomous nation-state… we are condemned to an impossible search for a past that never was.
Except, no one seems keen to speak much about it.
Empire is not a marginal part of British history; it is our national story. But, a lack of public debate and education on why it happened, what it meant, how it was carried out, and how it has shaped Britain and its former colonies, is leaving the door open to a nostalgic, fantasised idea of Empire being weaponised in order to sow division. "
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